Ahern Welcomes Reductions in Crime

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D., said the latest statistics on recorded crime for the third quarter of 2008 - released by the Central Statistics Office today – show welcome reductions across a wide range of offences.  Of the 14 crime groups for which statistics are given, 10 show reductions. 

The Minister said:  "While there are a number of welcome trends shown in the crime statistics, the fight against crime has to continue to be waged relentlessly.  That is why the Justice Estimates for 2009 give absolute priority to the fight against crime, including increasing by 20% the funding allocation to the Criminal Assets Bureau."

The Minister particularly welcomed the further marked decrease in homicide offences, which dropped by more than a half (56.7%) in the quarter and almost a half (44.9%) year-on-year.  There were percentage decreases in the quarter in cases of murder (down 50%) and dangerous driving leading to death (down 85.7%), with no percentage change in cases of manslaughter.  There has also been a decrease (8.3%) in the number of murder threats.  

The Minister said:  "I welcome the halving in the number of homicide offences, which follows a reduction of two thirds in the combined total of murder and manslaughter offences in the second quarter.  I believe that unceasing police work by An Garda Síochána, focused on at risk areas and individuals, has contributed significantly to this outcome."
There has been a decrease (17%) in the number of cases of driving or being in charge of a vehicle while over the legal alcohol limit.  The Minister said:  "This is an encouraging development.  It shows that drivers are getting the message that with the big increase in Garda enforcement activity, including mandatory alcohol testing, if you drive over the limit you are much more likely to be caught.  The increase in the number of cases of driving or being in charge of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs is a matter of concern, even though catching such drivers is the result of increased Garda activity."  The increased level of Garda enforcement has contributed to a reduction of 35 in the number of road traffic fatalities to date in 2008, compared with the same period last year.

The crime groups Controlled Drug Offences and Weapons and Explosives Offences show increases in the quarter of 25.4% and 6.6% respectively.  The recording of such offences is to a significant extent the result of continuing increased Garda activity and, accordingly, while reflected in the statistics as increases in crime, have to be assessed in that context.  The one significant exception, which confirms trends, is discharging a firearm, which declined by 35.7% in the quarter.

The Minister said:  "There has been a decrease of 2.9% during the quarter in public order and related offences.  While the number of disorderly conduct offences has remained stable, I welcome the big drop in liquor licensing offences, which shows an increased level of compliance by licensees with the law in this area.  The reduction of 26.1% in prostitution offences will have resulted in the removal of behaviour which has an extremely detrimental impact on neighbourhoods." 

While the number of cases of robbery of cash or goods in transit was small in numerical terms (increasing from 2 to 12 compared with the same quarter last year), this represents a large percentage increase.  An Garda Síochána and the Private Security Authority will continue to work with cash in transit companies to take all possible steps to counteract such robberies.

The Minister said:  "I am confident that An Garda Síochána will continue to focus on the areas which present the greatest policing challenges.  These include crimes such as robberies and burglaries which, while not having the highest profile, can cause enormous distress to their victims.  The strength of the Force continues to increase and by the end of 2009 the number of attested members will have grown by over 1,100, to almost 14,900, since the beginning of this year."

30 October 2008